Understand Your Competition and Propel Your Business Forward

Getting to know your customers isn’t the only way to learn about your market. Studying your competition can lead you toward new opportunities, help you define and capitalize on your strengths, and save you from expensive mistakes.

Spot New Opportunities

Researching what the competition is up to can reveal whole new markets you’ve been overlooking. If you typically sell kitchen and bathroom cabinets, but you discover the highest-valued builders in your area are thriving on retail renovations, it’s worth looking into the kinds of retail display cabinets they’ll be needing. Exploring the ways your competitors run their businesses can highlight opportunities for improvement in your own approach. Maybe you learn your strongest competitors all offer more extensive follow-up services than you do. By improving your after-sale service strategy, you might gain some ground on your competition.

Knowing what the competition isn’t doing is just as useful. No business can be everything to everyone, so your competitors weaknesses leave openings for you. Maybe you’re a framing contractor and you’ve seen an increase in building permits for home additions, yet no other local framing contractor seems to be targeting that market. Positioning yourself as a specialist in the finer points of framing home additions could bring you more business.

Learn from Their Mistakes

Keeping an eye on your area’s top companies can help you see when a company’s management has made a bad decision so you don’t make the same mistakes. If you notice a long-successful contracting company starts to lose its ranking, do some digging to find out why. Were they too dependent on a dying market? If so, you’ll know to avoid entering that market and to stay alert for signs of over-specialization. Did they try to expand too quickly? If they went from building only medical facilities to working on every type of commercial project within a few years, that’s a good indication to take your own company’s expansion a little slower.

To learn more about using data on your competitors to strengthen your business, contact us at Construction Monitor.

How the Right Data Can Help You Reach Your Ideal Customer

Even when you have a crystal clear image of your ideal customer, you still need to know how to connect with them in a time-efficient and cost-effective way. By alerting you to trends and spotlighting opportunities, detailed data on local construction projects can lead you straight to the clients you want most.

Spot the Trends

Reviewing local building permit data can help you find neighborhood trends that show where your ideal clients might be within your area. If you’re a general contractor focusing on home additions, a neighborhood with a high rate of home addition, remodeling, and renovation permits is a rich source of clients. Neighbors take inspiration from each other and once a few start renovating, more are sure to follow. Do a great job for one client and your name will spread through word of mouth. For financing providers, keeping an eye out for new building permits can reveal clients who are in the market for construction or home improvement loans.

Track Their Habits and Interests

When you know your ideal clients well, data from a building permit can help you surmise what the property owner might be buying soon. A building permit for a large house in an affluent neighborhood is a good indication the owner might be interested in high-end countertops, cabinets, and floor coverings. If you sell eco-friendly or smart appliances, looking for house plans that include solar or geothermal heating can help you find homeowners interested in cutting-edge appliances.

Hoping to find more repeat business? Looking at the construction history of a building tells you who might become a long-term client. If a homeowner renovated their kitchen one year and built an addition the next year, that suggests an on-going interest in home improvement. On the other hand, if a home hasn’t been renovated in the last 20 years, the owner might be actively searching for someone to do the job. You’ll have a chance to reach them before your competition does.

To learn more about using construction data to reach your ideal clients, contact us at Construction Monitor.

Business Is Booming – But Don’t Slow Your Marketing Efforts!

When you’ve got all the business you can handle, it seems reasonable to cut down on marketing to keep your schedule sane. Do that, though, and you’re liable to fall into a cycle of feast or famine. By working on long-term marketing instead, you’ll always have a construction project in the pipeline.

Build Your Email List

When a prospect joins your email list in the early planning phase of their construction project, you’ll have months to demonstrate your expertise and build rapport. By the time they’re ready to hire a construction company, you’ll be far ahead of anyone they come across later through a casual online search. Start connecting with prospects early by contacting landowners who’ve recently applied for a building permit. Get in touch and offer a free guide, white paper or other lead magnet as an incentive to join your email list. The insight you gain from their building permit will help you choose a lead magnet they’ll be motivated to sign up for.

Stay Up on the Trends

Just because you have a good thing going now, that doesn’t mean it will last forever. By staying on top of declining and emerging trends, you won’t be left without clients when the winds shift. Construction industry data can help you do that. If you specialize in commercial construction and notice a dropoff in the number of building permits granted for small commercial buildings, but an increase in permits for larger facilities, you might want to change your focus in the future. If you’re a building materials supplier and notice more homes being built with outdoor living spaces, it might be worth adding more decking material to your product line.

Polish Your Public Relations

Good PR gets your company’s name known in the community, and builds your credibility and positive reputation. Knowing the current market trends can help you understand what matters most to your ideal clients so you’ll know where to focus your PR efforts. If eco-friendly building materials, solar panels, and green roofs are trending, it makes sense to target your PR efforts towards environmental causes.

Incorporating Consumer Trends into Your Marketing Plan

Paying attention to what consumers want isn’t only useful for discovering new markets. It can also help you develop a marketing plan that’s fully in tune with your ideal clients’ needs and interests.

Do Your Research

To get real value from using consumer trends in your marketing, you need to know what the relevant trends are. Your intuition about what’s trending is a good place to start, but make sure you can back it up with hard data before you incorporate it into your marketing. Maybe you’ve heard demand for co-working spaces is booming, but are you sure that’s true for your area? Review the market data, interview suppliers, and hold focus groups to really get to know if a trend you’ve spotted is worth paying attention.

Focus specifically on your target market. Millennials looking to build their first homes set very different trends than older couples who want to remodel their homes for convenience as they age.

Review Your Whole Plan

Every part of your marketing plan can take inspiration from consumer trends. New trends can open up new target markets. For example, you might take advantage of the growing escape room trend by putting together a package detailing how your company can build one. With the ever-increasing concern for environmental sustainability, it’s worth emphasizing your eco-friendly materials and methods in your marketing material.

Look to trends to guide you on where and how to market. Instead of sending postcards with a single marketing message, include a QR code that ties your message into a larger digital campaign. On social media, pay attention to what types of posts are trending.

Trends can also influence your voice. Today’s consumers are generally put off by formal, traditional advertising and drawn to transparency and authenticity, which calls for a more conversational voice. Style trends matter, too. Make sure your website and other marketing material doesn’t look like something from the mid-90s or your prospects might wonder if your construction methods are equally out of date.

Most Requested Sustainable Features in New Homes

smart appliancesAs homebuyers become more aware of how eco-friendly features can save them money and protect the environment, demand for these features is rising steadily. Including commonly requested sustainable features in new homes is one way to attract attention from informed homebuyers.

Low-E Windows

Low-E (low emissivity) windows are treated with a coating that improves their ability to reflect radiant energy. The coating holds energy in on the same side of the window it came from. In summer, the windows reflect the sun’s heat back to the outdoors. In winter, they reflect warmth back into the room.

Windows are one of the biggest sources of unwanted heat gain and loss in a house. These energy-efficient windows can reduce energy loss by 30 to 50 percent, yet only cost around 12 percent more than standard windows.

Smart Appliances

Modern technology can do a lot to make a home more comfortable and convenient, and today’s homebuyers know it. In their search for new homes, they’ve come to expect smart, WiFi-enabled appliances that can adjust to the homeowner’s needs and be accessed remotely.

One of the most cost-effective options to install is a smart programmable thermostat that offers precision control over indoor temperatures.

Smart refrigerators that allow for remote monitoring and control are another good choice. Washers and dryers with smart technology that can adjust their cycles based on the homeowner’s remote input are also among the popular sustainable features in new homes.

Alternative Energy Options

As solar, geothermal and wind energy become more accessible, homebuyers are coming to expect options like these. One way to meet this demand is by installing photovoltaic solar panels on the roof. The cost of solar technology is dropping steadily, making it an increasingly practical option.

Geothermal heat pumps paired with radiant floor heating are also sought after for the exceptional comfort and efficiency this combination provides. Because underfloor heating is so much less costly to install in a new construction than to retrofit, homebuyers benefit if it’s already installed.

For more tips on including sustainable features in new homes, contact us at Construction Monitor.

Best Practices for Contractor Websites

While word of mouth might be the biggest part of your current construction marketing plan, it shouldn’t be the only one. Your website has the potential to be a major source of construction leads, but only if you give it the power to do so.

construction marketingDesign That Draws Clients

Make a good first impression with a website design that’s up-to-date and consistent in appearance, and that loads quickly. A site with no cohesive color scheme, or one that’s cluttered or full of bland stock photos detracts from your professional image.

If your site is like most, some 35 percent of your visitors are viewing on mobile devices, such as smart phones and tablets. Make sure your site is optimized for mobile so these visitors stick around.

From the design, text and images on your site, it should be immediately apparent who you are, what you do and who your target clients are. To pull in construction leads, the design should lead visitors on a clear path to a specific action, such as filling in a contact form.

Get familiar with the major factors affecting your ranking in Google so clients can find you more easily. This includes keyword placement, update frequency, image optimization, and outbound links to authority sites.

Content That Connects

In addition to providing information about your company, your website should act as a useful resource for your target market. Offering educational content encourages your clients to view you as knowledgeable, helpful and trustworthy.

Instead of hiding behind a corporate facade, let your visitors get to know the human side of your company. Include an in-depth “About” page, pictures of the company owners and employees, and photos of the office and equipment. Letting people see the real you builds trust and helps your visitors remember you — both critical factors in construction marketing online.

To further build trust, include testimonials from former clients and links to reviews of your company on other websites, such as the Better Business Bureau.

For more tips on effective construction marketing, contact Construction Monitor today.

How Nest is Changing Smart Home Technology

Home technology company Nest is well known for producing some of the most useful cutting-edge devices for the residential market. Now, further advances in some of their most popular smart home technology products are making even more positive changes in how residents control and interact with their environment.

Home Automation

smart home technologyNest’s smart devices offer unprecedented control and automation, integrated seamlessly with other personal technology such as cell phones. Two new features added to Nest’s line of home technology products are making it even easier for homeowners to interact with their devices and enjoy the benefits of connectedness and automation.

In an article in Fortune, writer Stacey Higginbotham reports that Nest will add a way for more than one person to control the residence’s overall Nest account. The second addition uses geolocation to improve the Nest thermostat’s ability to tell if anyone is home and to make temperature adjustments accordingly.

The Nest Family Account allows up to 10 people to control the home’s Nest devices. This represents an evolution in thinking about home technology products that have typically allowed only one user to control operation, Higginbotham observed. The Family Account gives wider control for Nest’s thermostats, security cameras and smoke detectors.

The new feature added to Nest’s thermostats uses geolocation associated with users’ smartphones to determine if someone is in the residence. This technology is more accurate than the sensors and algorithms that Nest has previously used to detect someone’s presence in the home, Higginbotham noted.

Energy-Saving Improvements

This improvement in thermostat function reduces the chance that the thermostat will shift to energy-saving Away Mode even if someone is there. It also removes problems with temperature settings that could result if the thermostat was in an out-of-the-way location or installed in a place where it would be difficult to get accurate sensor readings.

Construction Monitor helps construction professionals stay up-to-date with the most recent information on technological developments that affect the industry now and in the future. Contact us today for more information on smart home technology and how the advances in this important area will change how residential spaces are built and lived in.

The Latest in International Green Building Trends

Thanks in part to both consumer and governmental influence, green building trends are increasingly relevant to today’s construction professionals. Understanding how these trends vary around the world will help you better plan for your company’s future at home and abroad.

green building trendsDriving Factors for Green Growth

In many developed economies, including the US, UK, Germany and Poland, the green building market has already reached a certain level of maturity, but continues to see moderate expansion. Developing economies, including Mexico, Brazil, Saudi Arabia and China have seen a much sharper increase in the percentage of construction projects that will meet green standards.

For most construction firms around the world, the top trigger for undertaking a green building project is client demand. The percentage of firms citing this trigger rose from 35 percent in 2012 to 40 percent in 2015. Increasingly strict environmental regulations are also encouraging investment in green projects.

In both cases, technological advancements support these green building trends. Both Germany and the UK plan to make BIM the standard for the design and management of construction projects, while Brazil and Saudi Arabia are moving in that direction.

Where the Jobs Are

Commercial construction, which includes office buildings, retail stores and hotels, is the top sector for green building worldwide. Some 46 percent of construction contractors expect to work on a green commercial project in the next three years. These projects are likely to be particularly popular in Germany, Poland, China and India. The UK and Australia, on the other hand, expect to see little in the way of new green commercial construction.

Institutional construction, such as schools and other government buildings, is the second strongest sector worldwide. In the US, however, it’s the sector where the highest percentage percentage of green construction projects are expected. 46 percent of US construction firms expect to take on a green institutional project in the next three years.

Retrofitting of existing buildings ranks as the third sector over all, but comes in first in the UK, South Africa and Singapore.

For more information on green building trends, contact Construction Monitor today.

New York City Lifts Ban on Cranes

Following a fatal accident, the use of crawler cranes in New York City was placed under exceptionally strict regulations. These regulations quickly became unpopular with construction contractors and crane companies who found they provided little benefit. Now the regulations are set to be replaced.

crane companiesTragedy Brings Stricter Regulations

On February 5th, 2016, a nearly 600-foot crawler crane collapsed as it was being lowered as a precaution against approaching 25-mile per hour winds. The collapse caused damage for a full city block, ending in several injuries and one death.

In response, the New York Department of Buildings ordered crawler cranes to be shut down and stored whenever winds were forecast to surpass 20 miles per hour or if gusts surpassed 30 miles per hour. Operators were to put the cranes into safety mode then secure them the day before high winds were forecast. Penalties for disregarding these regulations were increased from  $4,800 to $10,000.

Better Crane Regulations Ahead

Wind speeds of 20 miles per hour are a frequent occurrence in New York. So frequent, in fact, construction contractors found themselves shutting down their cranes on a regular basis to comply with the new regulations. These shutdowns caused delays leading to logistical and financial issues. Worse yet, some contractors and crane companies feel the regulations don’t necessarily improve safety.

Mayor Bill de Blasio assembled a task force to review and revise the city’s crane regulations, but the panel was criticized for its lack of crane experts. This task force has recommended returning, in part, to the old regulations which state that cranes must stop operation when winds reach 30 miles per hour or manufacturer’s specified limit.

The task force has also proposed two additional measures. One would require an operator on site unless the crane is designed for winds of 30 miles per hour or higher or it’s in storage mode. The other would prohibit any crawler crane that can’t safely operate in 20-mile per hour winds from use in a public space.

For more information on regulations affecting crane companies and other construction professionals, contact Construction Monitor today.

5 Green Construction Trends To Look Out For

The big push in green construction throughout 2016 will put an emphasis on creating energy-efficient buildings that have a low-impact on the health of the environment. Sustainability and energy efficiency are becoming more important to business, governments and consumers around the world. This opens up the possibility for new products that are environmentally responsible. Each year, more firms are shifting their focus to green building. In 2008, only 13 percent focused on green buildings. In 2013, the trend increases to 28 percent. 2015 reports showed as high as 51 percent of respondents aimed to include green building practices. Those who watch construction trends will benefit from keeping their eye out on a few key developments.

Sustainable and GreenSingle-Family Home Construction

Green construction is booming, and construction companies that take advantage of green trends will see greater profit margins. Companies are beginning to use more sustainable building materials since consumers are demonstrating that they are willing to pay for efficient buildings. This can include recycled content, easily replenishable resources, locally available materials and salvaged materials. Choosing companies that carefully regulate their resource uses is important to consumers, and it can result in a better outlook for the environment.

Smarter Technology

Homes are beginning to make better use of technology to anticipate the needs of the occupants. In home building, it’s becoming more common to integrate lights that shut off when nobody is in the room and use an economical heating and cooling system that adjusts to occupants. Construction crews are also using advanced technology to create plans and test designs for any issues. Designers can quickly change materials used in the building process to find the most economical and environmentally-friendly option for each project.

Emphasis on Renovations

In the field of construction, there is an increase in the trend toward renovations. This offers a more economical option for upgrading a location, and the process may add new technologies to make the building more environmentally friendly. With renovations. most of the original structure remains intact, but key elements like insulation and electrical systems can be upgraded to provide better energy efficiency. Entire heating and cooling units can be replaced, and the building gains from increased overall efficiency. Remodels are popular when renovating a building, and there are various enhancements that can be used to reduce mold, use durable materials and making the most of energy utility usage.

Multi-Family Housing

Single family homes are expensive to build, and they can have a negative environmental impact. Multi-family homes solve this problem by dividing a home into more than one smaller units. These homes still offer the convenience and privacy of a home, but they take up less room and many of the resources can be shared between homeowners. Green multi-family homes are expected to increase to 79 percent of all multi-family homes that are built by 2018. Customers are willing to pay for green homes, and customers can save even more money when the cost of homeownership is reduced through the selling of multi-family homes.

High-Efficiency Products

Air conditioners, heating systems, electrical systems and alternate fuels can help reduce energy expenditures and make a building green. Consumers have shown an interest in paying for technology that can reduce their environmental impact. As the technology becomes more widespread, it will also become cheaper to produce. By taking advantage of the current interest in high-efficiency products and green construction techniques, construction companies can increase their profits while providing customers with what they need.

The market is continuing to favor green building. Construction companies that don’t take advantage of these trends are going to find themselves left behind as other companies begin to incorporate green technology in their homes and buildings. Buildings that offer renewable energy are on the rise, and the future of green building will require an initial investment in new technology and building techniques. However, the future of green building is bright as consumers continue to demand more energy-efficient building practices.